Today, we ventured off into the great outdoors of Jasper National Park. In total we only hiked about 6 miles because most of the picture-worthy sites were not far from the Ice Fields Parkway.
We saw awesome mountain lakes –
We saw waterfalls –
We saw glaciers and ice fields – We hiked Parker Ridge to see the toe of the glacier. And we learned that when you’re thirsty and you forgot to bring your own water, it’s all good if you can find clean snow. It’s super important to clean off the top layer before you put any in our mouth.
After leaving Glacier NP, we headed north of the border to Banff National Park in Canada to look for animals and attempt to get hypothermia. While driving to the park we saw Big Horn Sheep and a Grizzly bear.
Once we set up camp and went into town for groceries & dinner at Boston Pizza (horrible), we went back to camp to get rained on and turn into Popsicles. The next day we rode around the park looking for animals, hiked to the Hoodoos, the Bow River Falls, and Tunnel Mountain. In total, we hiked about 4 miles that first day.
After that we went back to camp to make silver turtles and relax by the campfire, before it started raining again and we got in our tent, Ben in his hammock, for another cold night.
Day 2 found us in search of some good hikes around Lake Louise. We found Moraine Lake, which made for a short hike, but some great sightseeing. The weather was rainy, but we made the best of it. We tried to hike to where the rain turned to snow, but there was a waterfall at the end of the civilized trail.
The next day we got out of camp early to go on a big hike, and we went by two tea houses, climbed a few snow drifts, and got caught in a snowstorm. I’ll let the pictures show you how awesome it was. Round trip was almost 12 miles. It was so cold and it snowed on us most of the day. We wanted to hike to the Beehives (both of them), but the Wilverine was revolting, so we had to keep promising him & tea and biscuits.
After that hike we went back to camp and made tacos, then sat by the warm fire until the sun disappeared and the stars came out, around 11 p.m.
Elgin was a really good first stop for our annual summer trip, and we got to see our good friends the Coyle’s
We spent the first day hiking in the Wichita mountains, until we went a place to eat where I ate about 2/3 gallon of ice cream. Then we watched the last Finals game (I really hate Stephen Curry), and I was very disappointed in Jebron Lames. The next day we went swimming in Lake Lawtonka and then in Medicine Creek, where we saw a water moccasin and Wyatt freaked out(JK).
We didn’t want to leave, but we did have to move on if we want to make it to Alaska.
We set up our base camp at Dorst Creek and then hiked out all over the park. As a group, we got in over 30 miles in the four days we were in Sequoia National Park.
One of our most favorite trails was our backpacking trip to Emerald Lake on the Lakes Trail.
Step one, we went to Lodgepole Visitor Center and put in for a Wilderness Permit. Step two, we packed our packs and headed out on the trail.
The Lakes Trail is about 15-17 miles depending how much wandering you do. We wandered all over and got in about 15 miles.
Elevation change for Emerald lake is about 5000 feet. You start at 6800 and go up to 9200 or so. It is a tough hike to the lakes. The trail gets very steep at times and it is quite challenging.
Our group consisted of one old man [our dad], our mom, and us – 13, 11, and 5 years of age.
Yes, a 5-year-old did backpack the entire trail with a pack.
Starting off was pretty easy. The Wilverine had to stop for gummy bears quite a few times.
We stopped for lunch on the way up at the watchtower. Take the watchtower trail; do not take the hump trail. The views on the watchtower trail were spectacular and the elevation was not nearly as extreme.
After the watchtower, the trail gets very rocky and narrow. If you look over the edge of the trail, the valley bottom is a long way down.
The first lake you encounter is Heather Lake. Next up is Aster Lake and then Emerald. The last lake is Pear Lake.
We camped at Emerald Lake and were the only people in the camp. We saw only a few people the entire time on the mountain and it was awesome.
If you are in the area and have a chance to hike or backpack the Lakes Trail, we encourage you to do it. It was a really cool trip.
We love us some big trees and there is simply no better place to see big trees than Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest.
We hiked all over the Giant Forest and spent time with General Sherman, the Congress, the Senate, and the President. We also saw many other giant trees like Chief Sequoya. Although the Wilverine complained about hiking the whole time we still had fun. What a cool place!
General Sherman is a huge tree. Sherman is the largest tree in the world. The Wilverine says “it is the fattest, reddest tree I have ever seen and it got struck by lightning, which is why the top quit growing. If you go here, you are going to see a big fat red tree that does not grow at the top. It is a really cool tree and you should go see it.” My mom says it’s like a human because it has quit growing up, but is still growing out.
On the Congress trail, you can see the Senate, the House, and the President. The Wilverine says “the President was huge. That is it.”
Giants are everywhere in the Sequoias. Chief Sequoyah and the McKinley tree were massive.
We are running our base camp from Dorst Creek Campground, site number 65. It is a walk-in tent only site and it is the best site ever. We have access to the river and can run free without bothering anyone.
We are backpacking as well and will post about our trip to Emerald Lake later. It is a 15-mile round trip backpacking trip with almost 5000 feet of elevation change. Hard core!
The condo our parents rented in Oahu was awesome. We will post information about the VRBO experience and about the condo we used in the Waikiki Lanais in a separate post. The owner, Sana, was awesome and really made our stay great.
Our parents asked about hikes and Sana suggested the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail.
We are a hiking lot with 5 seasoned hikers and backpackers so off we went. The youngest brother in our group of 3 is Big Willie or the Wilverine as he likes to call himself. We had to do a trail of the same name.
Here is a map of the trail from Google. You will take Laukahi Street from H1 / 72 going east from Waikiki or Honolulu. It is easy to find and very near Diamond Head. You will drive for what seems like days and finally reach a guard station. The trail head is located in an upscale gated neighborhood. We felt very comfortable leaving our car.
The guard was super nice and gave up a parking sign for our car, after scanning my mom’s ID.
There is a parking lot at the trail head and plenty of parking.
The trail starts off pretty calm and for about the first 2 miles, it is scenic and calm.
There were some amazingly large trees on the trail.
The last half mile is roughly 700 feet of straight up incline.
Wilverine is only 5 and he hiked the whole thing, while persistently chattering about the geneology & hierarchy of Bionnicles. (That was fun…)
We were bouldering and rock climbing with ropes for much of the 700 feet.
Made it up and heading back down.
There is a cool swing at the 1/2 way point.
It was fun and every one of us survived, but it was tough.
The entire hike was about 5 miles and it took up easily 4 hours.
We took a few breaks, but this hike takes a while.
Was it worth it? For sure.
This was our top hike in Oahu.
We hiked Diamond Head, Koko Head, Makapu’u Lighthouse, and the Manana Trail to the Waimano Falls/Pools.
If you are in Oahu, make time for the Wiliwilinui hike.
We hiked the Diamond Head Crater trail a couple days ago. It was a really fun hike. It only takes about 2 hours total and the hike is barely 2 miles. The total elevation change going up and back down is 1520 feet. 760 feet up and 760 down. Lots of people were on the trail of all ages so make sure you do not miss out if you’re in Oahu.
We posed for a group pic before filling up water bottles and heading to the trail.
The trail starts off paved and then turns to rocks and some boulders. It is a clear trail that is well marked with rails. It is very safe even for little people.
There is one section where you go through a cave, up a couple hundred stairs, and around a spiral staircase. We liked this so much we did it twice and ran up the stairs. Macho!
The views from the top were spectacular. You get a stamp if you make it to the top. You must bring a receipt or a map along with you. You can also buy a certificate at the top for five dollars.
What an awesome hike. We ran down to get in an extra workout.
Off to the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail for more hiking.
JP was our coach and he did an outstanding job. He told me to go straight, then turn left, then turn right, then move up 3 feet, go back 4 feet, jump 3 times, all while looking super cool. I did it all with style.
Ben is hanging ten or attempting to hang ten. Ben has style, but not as much as me.
We both had a blast riding the waves all the way to the beach. Don’t we look macho!
Here we go.
I had a ton of fun learning to wipeout!!!!!
The Wilverine is not pictured, as he had a melt down and did not get to surf. He is going to try another day.
We have been here in Oahu for 6 days and have checked out a ton of beaches.
So far, we feel the Kailua Beach / Lanikai is the best beach.
It has very clear water, lots of soft sand, and lots of shade trees in case you need them.
The mountains are right behind you and you feel like you are on the beach in Jurassic park without the dinosaurs, of course.
The water is pretty calm and super clear. Snorkeling was great here. Not a ton of sea life, but very clear water.
Enjoying the soft sand and clear water.
The water really is that blue / green.
From the water, you can see a forest right on the beach with beautiful mountains right behind the trees.
You have lots of shade if you get tired of the sun.Lots of restrooms on site with showers to wash off.
We felt it was a beach just for kids. The three of us were surrounded by lots of other kids.
Football and bbqs were going on all over the beach. We will definitely visit this one again before we have to leave Oahu.
On the road again and telling about it as we go . . .